Important Bird Areas

Caswell Road Grassland Complex

New York

This site includes a flat area of abandoned farmland with a high water
table and clay soils making it damp much of the year. This area is
privately owned, and is leased by a hunt club, which maintains the
habitat for Wild Turkey, Ring-necked Pheasant, and white-tailed deer
(Odocoileus virginianus). Cover consists primarily of grasses and weeds,
however, in areas where mowing has ceased, shrub/scrub habitat is
encroaching. A small percentage of the site is reverting to white pine,
white ash, aspen, and red maple.

Ornithological Summary

This site has been an important grassland bird nesting area, supporting
breeding at-risk species such as Northern Harriers (one pair in 1995),
Upland Sandpipers (at least one pair in 1996), Grasshopper Sparrows
(at least three pairs in 1995), and Henslow?s Sparrows (at least five
pairs in 1995, 10-12 pairs in the early 1990s). Other breeding grassland
species include Savannah Sparrows and Bobolinks (30 plus pairs in
1995).

Conservation Issues

In recent years the populations of grassland bird species have declined
and there is a need for targeted monitoring to better understand the
current situation. Management strategies seem compatible with the
needs of grassland bird species. Mowing is carried out on a schedule
that does not interfere with the nesting season. The land is posted and
patrolled, and there is little public misuse. Hunt club members rarely
use the site during the breeding season, so there is little disturbance of
grassland birds. Development of a long-term grassland management
plan in cooperation with the hunt club and the landowner would be
highly desirable.

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